An emotional moment as members of county youth groups perform at Menin Gate Ceremony

Sixty members of two of our county youth groups – Gloucestershire Youth Wind Orchestra (GYWO) and Gloucestershire Youth Orchestra (GYO) – performed at Brussels Cathedral and as part of the world famous Menin Gate evening service, as part of a summer tour to Belgium. Here, Ryan Morgan, one of the young musicians, and David Mills, tour administrator share their experiences, and below are two videos, the second of a piece commissioned for one of the performances.

Ryan’s story:

For me the highlight of the tour was being able to play at the Menin Gate Ceremony. Every night at 8pm buglers play the Last Post to remember the fallen soldiers of Britain and the Commonwealth who lost their lives in World War 1 at the battle of Flanders. These soldiers have no graves and their names are carved into the walls.

As a member of Wycliffe Combined Cadet Force (CCF) and I am in process of applying to be a musician in the Armed Forces. This was a huge honour and an experience I will never forget. Emotions ran high within me as the buglers played and the 2 minutes silence followed by the laying of the wreaths.

Whilst playing was something else, I felt so proud and this feeling was immense and I felt humble to take part, the acoustics inside the Menin Gate are fantastic and sent shivers down my spine as I remembered the fallen, thinking about their families who had no bodies or graves. This gave me more determination and pride to play well, follow my dream and wear my uniform with pride.

Ryan Morgan.

David’s story:

After 12 months of planning, members of Gloucestershire Youth Wind Orchestra (GYWO) and Gloucestershire Youth Orchestra (GYO) set out on the 15th July for a concert Tour to Belgium. There were 61 students from the top county Music Service Groups whose ages ranged from 11½ to 19 years, led by Steve Legge, Director of GYWO and Glyn Oxley, Director of GYO together with 6 other staff.

On the Tuesday morning the first stop was the Oostende Bandstand, in the middle of a square surrounded by Cafe’s. They were received very well and the coach then took them to St. Bravo Cathedrale in Ghent where an afternoon recital in the magnificent church was given a warm reception.

It was then on to the Green Room Theatre which is part of a school attached to the Cathedrale where they were fed prior to the last concert of the day. A good audience attended and after a rather long walk to find the local coaches who were to take them back to Ypres, a tired Group went straight to bed.

Wednesday again started early with a journey to Brussels to visit the fascinating Historical Musical Instrument Museum and on to the Cathedrale des Saints Michel et Gedule to perform an afternoon concert. Again a beautiful building a rather fluid audience but well received.

Thursday was a highlight of the Tour with morning visits to the Tyne Cot War Cemetery and the In Flanders Fields’ Exhibition which takes one through all the horror and suffering which took place in the Ypres area during the First Great War, before another concert was given.

The Menin Gate – and a specially commissioned piece

The culmination of the Tour came on the Thursday evening when we had been invited to take part in the Menin Gate Ceremony, Ypres. This magnificent Gate/Monument commemorates the names of all those lost during the First Great War but have no known resting place. Each night since the Monument was built the road has been closed at 8pm and the Last Post sounded by the Ypres Fire brigade Buglers.

Gloucestershire Music had commissioned a special piece of music called “Hall of Memory” composed by Liz Lane, who also attended the Ceremony. Beside this piece the Group also played tw Hymns and the National Anthems of Belgium and the UK, tw of the students laid a wreath in memory of those from Gloucestershire who were commemorated there. The Ceremony was very moving and attended by hundreds of people.

Everyone felt that the Tour had been interesting, enjoyable and worthwhile.

David Mills, Tour Administrator


Posted on September 30, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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